Leslieville, the New Queen West?

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Leslieville, the New Queen West?

2006_5_9starbucks.jpg
In due time, you’ll be able to fold a map of city in half, with Yonge Street as the crease, and witness the more or less symmetry in Starbucks locations on Queen Street. One Starbucks is on Queen West in Beaconsfield, site of the infamous “Drake you ho this is all your fault” tag of last year. The other is planned for Queen East in Leslieville, home of the infamous commenter Joe Clark. More importantly, West Queen West (or whatever) and Leslieville may mirror each other in more ways than coffee chains – as condos, home renovations and, eventually, higher property values begin to appear.
In his latest architecture “critique,” the outspoken, homosexual vegan reminds us he is outspoken, homosexual and vegan. He also discusses the impending Wicked Starbucks of the East and the changing face of the neighbourhood (it is after all supposed to be a neighbourhood site). Here’s what our comment-happy friend had to say on the subject:

Leslieville already has coffee shops and bars that attract low-income people, many of them vulgarians and borderline drug dealers who look fresh off the boat from Newfoundland. (I’m a poor boy from New Brunswick; I know the type.) By implication, opponents of gentrification are opponents of establishments that cater to people other than these. But the establishments that do cater to the Baymen of Leslieville aren’t going anywhere. Is it so much to ask for some of the rest of us to have a pleasant place to sip a cup of coffee?

But Joe Clark, like so many others, belies several myths about Starbucks. Here’s what he got wrong:
1) Low-income people still go to Starbucks.
2) Starbucks and drug use have a sordid past in Toronto.
3) Starbucks is overrun with vulgarians.
Next, Joe Clark throws his support behind the American coffee chain:

I call bullshit on any fears that the Starbucks will harm Leslieville. If they don’t screw it up, frankly the Starbucks seems like something to look forward to.

According to Joe Clark, because of the unique geography of the area, including churches, there is no threat that the neighbourhood’s character will be changed significantly. He even went out and counted chain stores in more developed neighbourhoods to prove it. He also says property value will not push lower-income residents out.
Meanwhile, the Globe and Mail reports on property value with this headline/cutline :The scent of a housing boom Real estate agents are happy when Starbucks decides to open a new location in a neighbourhood in which they work. They say the upscale coffee chain’s choice of where to locate is usually a harbinger of bidding wars to come.
The Globe is also profiling anatomy of a cheese shoppe opening, specifically the Leslieville Cheese Market & Fine Foods that is set to open next month. The owner of the store had this to say of the neighbourhood:

Development is happening everywhere. Leslieville has been identified as one of the hottest real estate markets in Toronto. There are dumpsters on front lawns of every side street, as people buy and renovate the beautiful Victorian row houses in the area. High-end condos are being completed now at Eastern and Broadview. The building is a one-minute walk to Queen and Broadview…More high-end condos are filling the warehouse to the northeast of Queen and Carlaw, scheduled to open in early 2007.

So it would appear as if Leslieville will be the recipient of increased attention, the likes of which Joe Clark has been craving ever since he started his Leslieville website. And for all his Leslieville boosterism, Joe Clark had better be pleased with the outcome of the development, no matter what. Since his trendy little architecture/neighbourhood site may have actually been a (very, very minute) factor in this Leslieville boom, he only has himself to blame for undesirable condos and Starbucks. Well, probably not. But would anyone object if we blame him?

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